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As the pandemic started to wane in the second quarter of 2021 (prior to a July uptick), the US labor market continued to recover, adding 850,000 jobs in June. This recovery pushed up the Cognizant “Jobs of the Future (CJoF) Index” to 1.78, from 1.57 in Q1 2021. This represents 467,324 job postings — an increase of 85,200 postings, or +22.3%, year over year, and +13.0% over the previous quarter.

The CJoF Index tracks demand for 50 digitally enabled jobs of the future identified by Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, capturing the quarterly fluctuations in postings for these jobs. While this strong growth for digitally enabled positions, which broadly represents higher-wage earners and larger investments for firms, signals longer-term economic confidence, the number of postings is still below the CJoF all-time high of 531,135 postings in Q1 2020, just before pandemic lockdowns began.

The CJoF’s growth also significantly lagged that of Burning Glass Technologies’ jobs index, which reached an all-time high of 12.2 million postings for the quarter, above the pre-pandemic peak of 10.6 million postings in Q1 2020. The CJoF lags the broader Burning Glass index chiefly because the current hiring frenzy is primarily focused on replacement positions for brick-and-mortar jobs, largely concentrated in industries hit hardest by the pandemic: service-oriented industries such as hotels, restaurants, bars and retail. These jobs are not typically represented in Cognizant’s digitally oriented CJoF Index.

Growth across the board

In addition to total job openings, the CJoF Index monitors trends in eight job families: Algorithms, Automation and AI (AAA); Customer Experience; Environment; Fitness and Wellness; Healthcare; Legal and Financial Services; Transport; and Work Culture. All eight families showed growth both quarter over quarter and year over year, with Legal and Financial Services and Environmental as the top performers for both.

Some notes on various job families:

  • The Legal and Financial Services family posted the sharpest quarterly increase in postings (+33.4%) and also for the year (+83.6%). The quarterly jump was thanks to especially strong growth in digitally enabled Risk Manager/Analyst (+50.6%) and Attorney (+27%) postings, which saw a substantial decline during the onset of the pandemic in Q2 2020. As more jobs in professional services fields are now location-agnostic, digitally enabled Attorneys and Risk Managers/Analysts are in high demand, with the Attorneys group seeing its largest single-quarter number of postings this quarter (4,446) and the Risk Managers/Analysts group posting its largest single-quarter postings figure since 2019 (4,477).

  • The Environmental family, which gained +79.3% year over year, saw the second-largest quarter-on-quarter increase (+21.3%), led by gains in job postings for Alternative Energy Manager (+47.4%) and Environmental Engineer (+38.1%). Such postings should continue to rise as the new presidential administration shifts focus to clean energy and green infrastructure, with the 2022 White House budget proposal including more than $2 billion in clean energy infrastructure and an increase of over $14 billion in climate spending.

  • The Healthcare family also realized a +21.3% gain for the quarter. Within this family, six out of eight individual job indexes registered quarter-on-quarter growth, while seven job postings showed expansion over the year. Over the quarter, Physician (+157.6%) posted the largest gains, followed by Biostatistician (+39.6%) and Health Technician/Technologist (+18.4%). Unsurprisingly given the pandemic, Registered Nurse posted the highest gains (+122.0%) over the year, recording the greatest number of postings this quarter (+10,044 postings) since the beginning of the index. While the Healthcare family has been one of the few families to sustain only minor losses throughout the course of the pandemic, Registered Nurses were already in short supply before COVID-19 caused additional early retirements and resignations due to the insurmountable stress that many of those working on the frontlines suffered.

Other job families performing well include Work Culture (+15.9% for the quarter and +26.4% for the year) and Algorithms, Automation and AI (+12.7% for the quarter, +17.5% for the year). Customer Experience also saw modest gains for the quarter (+9.0%) but has grown +44.2% year over year.

After experiencing the largest quarter-on-quarter increase in Q1 2021 (+137.8%), Fitness and Wellness had the smallest growth (+2.9%) this quarter, but year on year has seen +65.1% growth. Transport, at +9.0% for the quarter and +6.3% for the year, is trailing the other job families.

Quarterly winners and losers

The fastest-growing jobs in the CJoF Index over the quarter were:

  • Physician (+157.6%)

  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist (+135.1%)

  • Risk Manager/Analyst (+50.6%)

  • Alternative Energy Manager (+47.4%)

  • Biostatistician (+39.6%)

Jobs that posted the largest declines over the quarter in Q2 2021 were:

  • Genetic Counselor (-62.5%)

  • Sustainability Specialist (-21.2%)

  • Home Health Aide (-7.7%)

  • Sales Engineer (-7.0%)

  • Robotics Engineer (-3.2%)

Annual winners and losers

Turning to the 12-month period that ended with Q2 2021, the fastest-growing jobs in the CJoF Index were:

  • Solar Engineer (+369.0%)

  • Mechatronics Engineer (+168.2%)

  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist (+152.8%)

  • Sustainability Specialist (+127.8%)

  • Registered Nurse (+122.0%)

During the same period, jobs that posted the largest declines were:

  • Career Counselor (-31.5%)

  • Health Information Manager/Director (-27.8%)

  • Aerospace Engineer (-17.9%)

  • Security/Defense Intelligence Analyst (-16.5%)

  • Video Game Designer (-11.8%)

To learn more, visit the Center for the Future of Work or contact us.